Today, we consider authentic trust. Authentic trust is also sometimes called mature trust.
Why are we drilling down on these trust distinctions with this level of detail? Because of the centrality of how healthy trust is at the core of all healthy relationships. How we hold trust (and mistrust) has a direct impact on our experience of living, quality of relationships, and impact in life.
Simple trust is unreflective. Blind trust is self-deceptive.
Authentic trust is both reflective and honest with itself and others.
Whereas simple and blind trust experience betrayal as earth shattering, betrayal is neither surprising nor devastating to authentic trust.
Think about that for a minute. We have all experienced betrayals in our life, both large and small. Think about the major betrayals of your life (as an adult). What was your experience? Were you devastated? There is a difference between being hurt, angry and sad and being devastated. For most, any significant betrayal is going to hurt, create a sense of injustice and often anger, and sadness. That is normal, and generally not unhealthy unless it is indulged and you become captured by it.
But, devastation is a different experience. It has that element of coming out of left field to it…sort of like a meteor landing in your universe. It is earth shattering. If you experienced devastation due to the betrayal, it is worth thinking about how you were holding trust in that situation and see where blind or simple trust might have been in the mix.
Understanding some of the components of authentic trust helps differentiate which is what in how these flavors of trust exist in us.
Whereas simple trust is devoid of distrust and blind trust denies the very possibility of distrust, authentic trust is articulated in such a way that it must recognize the possibilities for betrayal and disappointment. It does not exclude or deny distrust, but rather accepts it and goes on to transcend it in action.
Authentic trust is a committed openness rather than a mere lack of discrimination. In my experience, this requires courage and a willingness to discuss what some would consider awkward or difficult situations or concerns. To trust someone is not to say “anything goes” but rather to keep open your responses, expectations, and a willingness to discuss and negotiate. There is no particular obstacle, disappointment, or betrayal that has to bring such trust to an end, because that kind of trust is dedicated to a relationship. Authentic trust is self-confident with a focus on one’s own responsibilities in trusting.
Authentic trust is trust that is well aware of the risks, dangers, and liabilities of trust, but maintains the self-confidence to trust nevertheless. Authentic trust differs from simple trust and blind trust in its willingness, and in the necessity, to confront distrust.
What is necessary to move from simple trust to authentic trust is:
- caring about the long term relationship and not just the outcome
- negotiation and mutual understanding
- a willingness to make and stand by your own commitments
- a keen awareness of the risks and liabilities, and
- the recognition that taking on these risks and liabilities is above all your own responsibility.
And, after all is said and done, the choice to extend authentic trust is exactly that-a choice. There are no “should’s,” “have to’s,” or “need to’s” in it. It is a choice. You get to make the choice and you get to own it. And the choice to extend authentic trust is an in-the-moment dynamic. It is a choice we get to make on an ongoing basis. Or not.
Deciding to trust authentically once does not inoculate you from blind trust for all of time in that relationship. It requires being present on an ongoing basis and choosing, moment by moment, to extend and engage it.